Study Group 2


Dave Ficke (B)

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SEPTEMBER 2021 ROUND

Title:     Mom and I

Goal:     A friend and I drove out to Arizona to Salt Creek - took 8 hrs and spent the next two days looking for some wild horses.  

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D850, 80-400mm lens with a 1.4 teliconverter. 1/1250 second at f8 using a tripod.   
   
Technique:     We had heard that the horses have been out in the afternoon at this one spot and so we both set up and waited for hours. Finally these two came out and was eating the water grass. We had a good time shooting.  

Processing:   Crop, clarity, adjusted shadows, contrast, highlights

Score this image: YES


Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)
    Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

 
Review by commentator Rick C.
This is one of those hard “lessons” that comes along relative to the PSA-FIAP joint nature definition. Horses other than the Mongolian wild horse (Przewalski’s Horse) are considered feral no matter where they are located in the world and how long the population has been unsupervised by humans on a regular basis. So, despite the nice behavior shown, this gets a score of 0 (a DQ) as a nature image under the existing rules.

The technical is very solid. Technical score 3

While a little on the tight side compositionally, the image has good impact, interest and generally solid pictorial quality. Pictorial rating is a 3.

N-0, T-3, P-3 = 6


This Review is written by: Kathy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Undeniably a wonderful nature story of mom and her colt and a sweet moment. Clearly in the wild. While they are stationary, it appears they are interacting. I am not sure if they are drinking or grazing on something. Hard to tell what is dangling from their mouths. Love how their heads are together, baby could be nuzzling as well. Not sure if the image has a dynamic story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Cropping is well done. I enjoy the reflection in the water and seeing the entire bodies. Like how rule of thirds is used to place them. Depth of field is good. Colors are good. I am not sure if it is the quality of the upload, or if the horses are a little soft. If so, looks like the camera locked in on the water below

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I believe the image is composed well. More interaction or movement would have more impact.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: LC B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interactions between mothers/young often present good stories and you have something here. Since it’s feral horses though, you probably won’t be entering it any competitions. That said, give the global environmental crisis, perhaps its time for an offshoot nature category to showcase the affects of the hand of man.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your colors are good and and focus is sharp. You might want to use a gradient mask to pull down the brightness of the top background.


PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your current composition impedes the story to my eye. Flipping the image to read better L->R would really alleviate this.


NATURE SCORE 1-Nature story minimal or contains unrelated hand of man

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 5


This Review is written by: Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The first issue these are horses and farmed animals are not allowed in Nature images, but I appreciate that these are wild horses and thus should be allowed. It is of interest because we have wild horses in the New Forest (S England) and I was intending to research whether they would be allowed.
I'll treat them as wind. But it is possible that Judges may not all be aware that there are wild horses.
Treating them as wild, the next question is as to Nature story. The sensitive moment you have captured is to me enough of a story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You have handled the range of lighting well and it may be a personal taste whether you lighten the shadows a tad more on the foal's head. It is sharp and I like the space you have left in front of the pair.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It is a pleasing sensitive image. I enjoyed admiring it.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
If only I could access wild horses as readily as you! Not many chances for that in coastal South Carolina! This is a truly touching photograph. Animals drinking or eating. What’s so touching about that? It is after all, a very common occurrence. That’s true, and at first glance that may be all the viewer sees. However, a closer look reveals the emotional contact, which is evident. In my thinking, this nature story goes well into the emotional range. A 3 for sure!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your gear and settings got the job done. The best technique was being prepared to spend the time needed to get this shot. Sometime a tripod is truly beneficial.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a fine photograph. Good color, good background, nice reflections, good and sharp. Well done. As earlier I referenced, I believe the strength is the apparent affection the colt shows as he/she nuzzles mama. I would like to see this as a heads portrait, in very tight. I believe that would add even more impact.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
a horse although the salt water basin horses is a feral one hence disqualified.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
not needed

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
not needed


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AUGUST 2021 ROUND
Title:    Playing

Goal:   I was luckY to find bear 399 that was made famous from Tom Mingleson. My goal upon finding Bear 399 and her cubs was to hang out for 3 hrs and try to get some good shots of bear 399 and possibly interaction with her cubs - just happy that I go this shot as cubs were moving from deep shadow to sunlight.  
 
Equipment/Source:     Nikon D500, 1/1250 second, f7.6, ISO 1000. Using a 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens.

Technique:    trying to stay 100 yards away as I am continuously backing up using a tripod for several hrs watching and photographing these bears.

Processing:     Cropping, adjusting highlights and shadows.

Score this image: YES

Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)

   Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by commentator Tom S.
Since the viewer has no idea about the sow and cub playing as you saw, you have to show them that, but the cropping to so tight that it isn’t obvious that it is a sow and cub and that they are playing.  However, there is some kind of relationship going on. N2

Technically, it is ok.  The bears are reasonably sharp and their coloring is good.  T3

The cropping is much too tight so it is hard to see what is going on.  It would be much better to show a lot more or all the animals to be able to understand the situation.  Also, it would be better to be able to see the eye of the bear on the right.  P1

N2, T3, P1, E0  = 6

Bruce Finocchio – “A Pacific Gophersnake Uses Tongue To Sense Its Environment”
It is a nice portrait of a gopher snake so not much of a nature story.  N2

Technically well done.  Good color, sharp, and nothing to distract the viewer.  T3

The low angle really makes this image much better than if it were looking down at the snake.  Nice work.  P3

Because it is just a portrait, I wouldn’t expect it to score very high in nature in an international exhibition since the high scoring images will have a strong nature story.  Also, you need to shorten the title to make the 35-character limit.

N2, T3, P3, E0 = 8 


This Review is written by: Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is a tight close up on the parent and cub interacting. It shows good interaction between the two bears.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
exposure is good as is the sharpness and DOF. The colors look reasonable and the background is nicely OOF. There is a nice eye highlight in the club while the eye of the mother bear is mostly obscured.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The diagonal between the mother and cub is strong and the placement of their heads works well. However I fe el that they are jammed into the frame. In I would like to see more room at the bottom of the frame (the hair on the cub's chin is cut off) as it is ear. I would like to see more of the mother bear, perhaps an equal balance between the cub and parent.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hello Dave. I want to thank you for bringing 399 to our attention. Upon reading your commentary, I did a search on her. Her story is truly wonderful! To have photos of her and her cubs would certainly be special! Too bad we don’t critique the stories behind our photos!
I really like this photo. It is a striking portrait!


TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your gear and technique are spot on. Thanks for emphasizing the importance of obeying the restrictions regarding viewing and photographing these great animals. They deserve their space as it keeps them and us safe. Your effort and dedication to safely capture this moment rates a point for excellence!

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
What’s not to like here? Nutt’n as far as I can see! Good texture in all that wonderful grizzly fur, one eye’s nice catch light, very nice bokeh. The only suggestion would be to ever so lightly reduce the tone of the shadow on the face. I find it draws my eye to that dark spot.
Well done, Dave!


NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good capture of bear 399 cubs at play.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colour on cubs, eye clear with catchlight on L/H cub. Image appears a little soft.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice composition with good impact. Background enhances image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is some action and engagement between the bears. It’s hard to tell if it is between a parent and cub or two cubs. Essentially this image is a portrait, with its tight crop of the bears. They are not snarling at each other, affection expressed is minimum, the action between them isn’t decisive, the top bear’s eye is partially hidden. Therefore, I feel the nature story is muted and the decisive moment wasn’t captured.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure and sharpness are acceptable. Awesome that you got to photograph 399. I wasn’t as lucky in October 2020, even though we spent time looking for her and her four cubs.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I find that the composition is a bit out of whack. The image has two triangles, the top left part of the image, the background, and the bottom triangle with the bears placed in it. Thus, my mind is bouncing back in forth between them. This image seems and feels bottom-heavy. Don’t know how much room you have, but I would include more of the bottom bear and less of the background on the top. Moving the bottom bear upward by including more of its neck would improve the composition. The bottom bear seems and feels cut off since it is so low within the frame. It has no neck. This is the most prominent bear, where you can see its eye clearly, so minimize it with your frame in my opinion lessen the overall impact of the image. You can rotate your crop as well, changing the angle. The subjects don’t have to be in the position exactly as when you took the image. Overall, I would try to increase the amount and size of bears that are in the image, and reduce the space that the background occupies.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7










Dave Ficke joined the Mountain News in September of 2015 as a sports photographer, covering Rim of the World High School sports.  In 2017 he was asked to also write the sports articles to accompany his excellent photographs for the Mountain News.  This is his first professional job as a sports correspondent; additionally Dave has done other articles on human interest and the environment for The Mountain News.  

Dave graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a BS in Biology, earned his California Secondary Teaching Credential and taught high school college prep Biology, Physics and Field Biology in Upland, CA. He led field trips to Yosemite National Park for his Field Biology classes for twenty-seven years.  Dave also earned a Masters in Environmental Education and is currently retired from a career that spanned 33 years, teaching high school through college.  

During his time in the field of Education Dave has variously been the coordinator for the California Regional Environmental Education Network (CREEC) for all of Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino Counties for over 20 years; he was a Teacher Ambassador for Cal Recycle, presenting professional development curriculum the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) to educators throughout California for seven years.  Dave was appointed by California’s State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to help develop The California Blueprint for Environmental Education for the State of California.  

Dave has retired from rock climbing and rapids riding, but still loves to hike and take backpacking trips.  His informal avocation for photography developed into a second career for Dave; he currently shows and sells his landscape and wildlife prints at The Mountain Arts Gallery in Lake Arrowhead. He has won various awards for his photographs from The Orange County Fair, Inland Empire Professional Photographers, and the Redlands Camera Club where he was president for two years.

Dave, his wife Kathleen, also a retired teacher and guidance counselor, and their two dogs, Jordie a golden doodle, and Cedar, a golden retriever, love to travel in their fifth wheel RV for weeks at a time.  Dave’s love of the outdoors and his passion for landscape and wildlife photography complement his love for the environment.